Google’s top legal officer lashed out at Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and other companies on Wednesday, accusing them of fighting a “hostile, organized campaign against Android.”
David Drummond, Google senior vice president and chief legal officer, accused the company’s rivals of using “bogus patents” to make Android phones more expensive for consumers and harder for manufacturers to sell.
“Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on,” Drummond wrote on The Official Google Blog.
Drummond seemed to be especially irked that a consortium of companies that included Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research in Motion and Sony won a bid to purchase more than 6,000 patents from Nortel at the end of June. The group’s $4.5 billion dollar bid beat out Google’s $900 million bid for the portfolio, which includes patents involving technology for wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, voice communications, Internet development, and semiconductor technology, among others. Drummond suggests the group banded together just to make sure Google didn’t have the winning bid.
He suggests that the group is also using anti-competitive tactics such as attempting to get licensing fees for every Android device and suing Android phone manufacturers such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung to curb the operating system’s success.
“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” he wrote. “Instead of competing by building new features or devices, [the companies] are fighting through litigation.”
Drummond says Google will attempt to strengthen its own patent portfolio to help reduce “anti-competitive” threats in the future. On Sunday, Google started that process by acquiring more than 1000 patents from IBM.
Bulking up patent portfolio is a smart move
In an earlier story about Microsoft’s war on Android, patent watcher Florian Mueller said a weak collection of patents is partially to blame for the series of attacks on Android.
“It’s a combination of Google’s arrogant and reckless approach to other companies’ intellectual property rights, Google’s gambling at the expense of its partners, who bear the brunt of this, and the weakness of Google’s own patent portfolio, which is small and not sufficiently diversified to solve Android’s [intellectual property] problems,” he said.
Drummond says Android fans need not fret because Google will fight to keep Android on top.
“We’re not naive; technology is a tough and ever-changing industry and we work very hard to stay focused on our own business and make better products. But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it,” he wrote.